Children as young as infants are able to start picking up important math concepts that will follow them through life. Not only are early math concepts taught in Montessori daycare and preschool, but they can also easily be applied to daily household activities. Using a hands-on approach to education makes it easier for kids to pick up these skills, and it may surprise you how quickly your children take them to heart.
The ability to count usually precedes the ability to recognize numerals, beginning even before your child attends a Montessori daycare. Counting begins in infancy, typically with counting fingers or toes, and progresses to the ability to count other objects. Since the earliest counting process uses a predetermined group of items such as fingers, the concept of grouping and sets are included in the process by default. In its simplest form, the basic set is a hand containing 5 fingers.
You can begin teaching children to recognize numerals even before they are able to talk. By the time they are in preschool, most children will have a good idea what the numerals for 2 and 3 look like, and will probably be ready to pick basic numbers from 1 to 9 out of a group of numerals.
More and Less
As children learn to identify their numerals they will also be able to pick up concepts such as more and less even if they aren’t yet able to count the number of items in a set. A group of three toy trucks is more than 1 toy truck, for example, and taking one of the truck out of the set means there are less than there were. This type of association is a good introduction to simple addition and subtraction, and an excellent way for children to compare sets of similar items.
After mastering the basic math concepts, children are ready to start exploring the complexities of math such as adding and subtracting items, dividing a set into equal parts (and recognizing when there is a remainder), and even learning the rudiments of multiplication by adding sets together. Introducing these concepts begins in your Montessori preschool and kindergarten, but the basic concepts they need for learning them starts within days or weeks of being born.